Adam Feinstein: Graveyard LoveQ: Addie Hall’s story had never been told – there is a book about the murder (Shake the Devil Off by Ethan Brown) that focuses on Zack, but there hadn’t been any in-depth reporting on Addie – what did you discover about her?
Initially Addie was an enigma. She wasn’t always described the same way by everyone. The process of getting to know her was a process of integrating all the different things people said.
Many people in New Orleans weren’t fond of her. She had a reputation for volatility, a sharp tongue and a sharp temper. She was impulsive and she could be hurtful. But she had also been hurt herself, many times. And those who loved her absolutely adored her. I got the impression of a person of real depth, at the same time she had lots of flaws. I think she shared the best parts of herself with only a few people. Those people will always remember her. Q: How was it shooting in New Orleans?
I’d been to New Orleans previously, and it is fascinating. It really grew on me this time. It’s run-down, soulful, and full of dreamers. When you’re there, the rest of the world seems to fade away.
I wasn’t seduced by Bourbon Street (it’s kind of an assault on the senses) but I love the local bars in the French Quarter and the Bywater. I love that people bring their dogs, and drink and laugh loudly and tap their feet to music, like it was their living room. Everything is dirty and sexy and no one cares if it’s kind of a mess. I’m not a barfly, but if I lived in New Orleans, I might be. Q: What was your favorite scene to shoot?
I remember shooting the "Katrina Holdouts Barbecue" - a scene which is broken up by a rainstorm. There was no plan to make it rain during this scene. But we had just shot a burning mattress minutes before - and for safety reasons we had a New Orleans fire truck on hand. Suddenly we looked at each other and said - what if we ask them to shoot their firehouses straight up into the air?
I love moments like that, because after they happen you can't imagine the story without them. The rainstorm made for us by the fire department became a powerful transition into the hurricane floods. The rain for Zack and Addie is an emotional release - the moment when they get lost in each other.Q: And how do you think it works in the finished product?
I think it works beautifully. That love scene after the holdouts barbecue, that flows straight into the devastation of the hurricane... It captures a big contradiction – how beautiful things and terrible things can be happening in the same moment. We were intimidated at first by how to handle Hurricane Katrina. It was a cataclysmic event, much bigger than our intimate, personal story. But the two are intertwined. You couldn’t tell one without the other. Q: Tell me about the music in the episode.
This episode contains some of my favorite cues in the whole series. The Jolie Holland track "Old Fashioned Morphine" (which plays during a drinking scene) captures something eternal – the way people, time and again, seek to drown themselves in quick pleasures, rather than face the difficult and painful things in their lives. In New Orleans, quick pleasures are everywhere and they can devour you.
The Sean Rowe track "The Long Haul" (which begins over a love scene and continues across the scenes of Hurricane Katrina) is a stunner. It is pure, exposed emotion. In one sweep it describes the most beautiful moments of Zack and Addie’s lives; and the most tragic moments for their city.
Then we have two dark, sassy tracks from Eilen Jewell, that open and close the story - and really fly the flag for New Orleans.Q: Forty-two minutes isn’t a lot of time to tell this story. What did you have to leave out that you wish you could have explored further?
When Zack wrote that he was a total failure - he was including not just his love life but his military career and his family. I wish I could have done more with that. In particular it would have been interesting to delve deeper into Zach's military experiences. They were very formative, I think. Zack was a veteran of the Iraq War. His Army buddies respected and cared for him, and I know they could shed more light on what he went through.
As for Addie, she was someone who hid from her past. It was always more difficult to understand where she was coming from. But the city of New Orleans is full of people who knew Addie and might have shed some light on her. I wish we'd had opportunity to hear from more of those people, some of whom are hard to track down.Q: So what do YOU think happened to them? What led up to that night?
I think Addie and Zack were on the edge - and some combination of poverty, drugs, and hopelessness pushed them over it.
Zack and Addie both realized very young that their dreams were not going to happen. And I think they were both dreamers by nature. A lot of their behavior is easier to understand when you think of them as people who have lost hope.
Addie was a person with some self-destructive tendencies. I think she embraced some romantic ideas of living hard and dying young. She couldn't have children; couldn't hold relationships together; she had no career ladder to climb. I think it was difficult for her to imagine a future, with all of those pieces missing.
And I wonder if Addie didn’t put herself in harm's way, with Zack. This is not to blame her in any way. But a number of people told us how she would push him and provoke him - and she knew how unstable he was.
This is the only episode of Final Witness where several of our interviewees said they loved both the killer and victim. That’s an extraordinary situation. I’ll be surprised if I ever encounter it again.